Calisthenics (also known as Australian calisthenics) is a team-based competitive performing art featuring elements of rhythmic gymnastics and ballet combined with a strong emphasis on theatricality (both musical and dramatic), costume, dance and musical interpretation. Since the 1950s Calisthenics has been an entirely female art form, however males have recently been re-introduced in the younger age groups. The art form was created entirely in Australia and can be easily differentiated from traditional calisthenics by its focus on competition and choreographed theatrical performance instead of simple synchronised exercise. The word itself comes from the Greek words for beauty and strength. Calisthenics is currently practised in all states except Tasmania.
Calisthenics consists of performing a variety of ‘items’ which are usually presented at eisteddfod-like stage competitions. Currently the items performed in Calisthenics are: Figure March, Club Swinging, Free Exercises, Rod Exercises, Aesthetics, and several other ‘Fancy Items’. Fancy items are those items which typically focus on the theatrical performance other aspects, and are included on a rotational basis (i.e. not all performed every year). Fancy items include Song and dance, Calisthenic Spectacular, Rhythmic (similar to Aesthetics), Stage Presentation and Calisthenics Revue. At the most elite level, Calisthenics competitors are required to have a high level of flexibility, strength, balance and control, precision, technique, execution and a high level of Choreography is also required.
Competitors wear beautiful costumes often designed and sewn especially for the year’s competition items. The competitors also wear theatrical make up to emphasise expressions on stage. Team competition is the main form of competition, however solo competitions including “Graceful Solo” (a solo similar to that of Aesthetics) and “Solo and Duo” (a solo that is similar to that of Free Exercises, but must be an equal blend of that and dance) are also a part of the performance art. For example, one of the highlights of the year for the elite solo competitor is a competition category called “Most graceful girl”.
Source: Wikipedia \ Calisthenics Australia
Click on this link to see a short film clip of elite Calisthenic performers showing excerpts of their items at the 2005 Waverley Comp and 2005 National Championships.